Witch’s Brew

Here’s a bit of welcome news — a spanking-new Blu-ray of Mario Bava’s BLACK SABBATH, with essay by me.


I first saw this film in Vienna, on VHS, dubbed into German. Fiona and I were visiting friends, and I dropped into a vid store to see if they had anything not available back home. DIE DREI GESICHTER DER FURCHT looked too good, and too cheap, to pass up, even though I knew I wouldn’t understand a word of the dub. It proved to be the American cut of the film, which needlessly rearranges the episodes and jettisons Karloff’s magnificent send-off/send-up at the end, but the film still worked its magic. It’s scarier when you watch it someplace that’s not your home, actually.

I hadn’t been too taken with BARON BLOOD on VHS from Redemption at this point; childhood viewings of MASK OF SATAN and LISA AND THE DEVIL had left me amused and bemused respectively; but I’d acquired a really ratty tape of BLOOD AND BLACK LACE, and that had impressed me no end, even with all the murders cut by the British censor. From this point on, I was a fan.


7 Responses to “Witch’s Brew”

  1. Blood and Black Lace is reportedly the very first giallo. It’s teriffic. Lisa and the Devil is much admired by many Bava fans but I just couldn’t get into it.

  2. Nice… saw your name in the features list of Criterion’s just-announced Pierre Etaix set, too.

  3. Blood and Black Lace doesn’t invent everything, but it does put all the elements together in the right order for the first time — it’s the first unmistakable giallo for sure.

    I like Lisa and the Devil but it’s a peculiar piece of work — I had to see it a few times before I really appreciated its peculiar qualities. And I even like House of Exorcism, the rejigged version, not for its own quality but for the way it intersects with the original, like a particularly un-scenic route through some of the same material. One could imagine a whole labyrinth constructed out of alternate edits of L&tD — a project for Borges or Ruiz!

    I’ll run a little promo piece for the Etaix soon — am still writing the thing! But I think it’s going to be good and I know the movies are!

  4. There’s a persistent rumour that Barbara was nervous of Bava because she’d heard he was a cunning special effects man who had a special X-ray camera that could photograph people through their clothes. But she strikes me as too smart to fall for that.

    Possibly she had him confused with Roger Corman.

  5. Barbara’s not afraid of ANYTHING.

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